Rock County, WI

Tactics Used

Auto Seizure
Buyer Arrests
Community Service
Employment Loss
Identity Disclosure
IT Based Tactics
John School
License Suspension
Neighborhood Action
Public Education
Reverse Stings
SOAP Orders
Web Stings

Rock County, Wisconsin has a population of about 164,000 and is located on the state’s southern border, abutting Illinois. Its county seat is Janesville. Rock County comprises the Janesville-Beloit, WI Metropolitan Statistical Area and is included in the Madison-Janesville-Beloit, WI Combined Statistical Area. Prostitution and sex trafficking activity have been well-documented in the communities and unincorporated areas of the county.  This activity and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates results in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses. For example, in May, 2015, three women and one man were arrested in connection with a drug and prostitution enterprise in Edgerton.  The Rock County Sheriff’s Office’s SWAT team, Special Investigations Unit and officers from Edgerton police searched several apartments and common areas at an apartment complex on N. Henry St. in Edgerton, in connection with a drug and prostitution ring investigation. The sheriff’s office said the search warrants were specifically written to locate evidence of drug trafficking and prostitution alleged to have been taking place in three apartments. Over the course of one month, SIU and Edgerton officers conducted interviews and surveillance of the apartments, and the investigation substantiated the claims and resulted in the search and arrests. Charges included keeping a place of prostitution, “soliciting prostitutes,” maintaining a drug trafficking place, felon in possession of a firearm and possession of drug paraphernalia, and a probation hold. In February, 2022, the Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke and U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, announced the conviction of a local man on charges of sex trafficking, conspiracy to commit sex trafficking, maintaining a property for the purposes of distributing and using controlled substances, and of having committed sex trafficking of a minor while being a person previously convicted of a crime that required registering as a sex offender. The jury reached a verdict following a four-day trial in federal court in Madison. The government presented evidence at trial that Hereford targeted vulnerable young women struggling with drug addition, one of whom was a minor – 16 years old at the time – to engage in commercial sex. He enticed the victims with access to heroin, and in some instances threatened to withhold the heroin to induce withdrawal sickness as a means of compelling the victims to engage in prostitution for his profit. In other instances, the man threatened physical violence to achieve his criminal objectives.  The evidence demonstrated that Hereford conspired with his co-defendant to recruit victims and compel their commercial sexual exploitation. The man pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit sex trafficking in July 2021. Other evidence at trial showed that the man maintained a home in Janesville, for the purposes of distributing and using controlled substances, specifically heroin and cocaine. He had been previously convicted of second-degree sexual assault of a child in the State of Wisconsin, which required him to register as a sex offender. In a separate case, in June, 2022, Rock County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team responded to a call at a residence, and the resulting investigation led to charges for keeping place of prostitution, a felon being in illegal possession of a firearm, and drug trafficking offenses. In September, 2022, a local man was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison on after being convicted for sex trafficking, accused of exploiting an adult and 16-year-old, both struggling with addiction, to participate in commercial sex for his financial gain. Officials alleged in some cases he withheld heroin to compel the victims to engage in prostitution. He was convicted of: sex trafficking; maintaining a property for the purposes of distributing and using controlled substances; and having committed sex trafficking of a minor while being a person previously convicted of a crime that required registering as a sex offender. The case was investigated by Janesville Police Department, Wisconsin Department of Justice, Division of Criminal Investigation and the Rock County Sheriff’s Office.

Consumer level demand provides the revenue stream for all prostitution and sex trafficking, and has therefore been targeted by local law enforcement agencies as a strategy for prevention and response. For example, in September 2017, the Wisconsin’s Attorney General announced the arrest of 25 males in sex trafficking operations conducted across the state. The web-based reverse stings were focused in northern and eastern Wisconsin, and operations focused on people seeking children for sex and johns who solicit prostituted persons. Some of the sex buyers arrested were seeking sex with 14-and 15-year-old children.  Charges include soliciting a prostitute, pandering, soliciting a child for prostitution, attempted second degree sexual assault of a child, child enticement, using a computer to facilitate a child sex crime, exposing a child to harmful material, and exposing a child to harmful narrations. The Rock County Sheriff’s Office was one of the agencies collaborating in these operations. The Wisconsin reverse stings were part of the National Johns Suppression Initiative. In a news release announcing the results of the operations, the Attorney General said:

“The only reason human trafficking exists is because there is a demand for buying sex. Those creating the demand – the johns who buy victims and the pimps who are exploiting them – are not safe to exploit and coerce people in our state. When I was sworn in as attorney general, I put johns on notice. We are coming for you, and for some – we already got you. DOJ’s Human Trafficking Bureau’s arrests this summer will not be the last.”

In March 2019, the Rock County Sheriff’s Office collaborated with Janesville police and other agencies to arrest three men on suspicion of pandering in an effort to reduce human trafficking in the area. During the operation, 25 to 30 men responded to an ad and reached out to request sex acts from undercover police. Authorities arrested three men on suspicion of pandering after the men showed up at the hotel. All three were arrested and faced misdemeanor charges, and were taken into custody at the Rock County Jail. The men were all identified in news releases, and were tentatively charged with misdemeanor pandering, and one was booked into the Rock County Jail on a parole violation. The sting took place at a hotel on Midland Road, with the hotel providing three rooms for free to the police.  Agencies taking part in the sting included the Janesville, Beloit, Clinton and town of Beloit Police Departments, the Rock County Sheriff’s Office and District Attorney’s Office, the Janesville Fire Department and the Division of Criminal Investigation of the Wisconsin Department of Justice.

Key Partners

  • Rock County Sheriff’s Office
  • Janesville Police Department
  • Eagle River Police Department
  • Juneau County Sheriff’s Office
  • Kohler Police Department
  • McFarland Police Department
  • Monona Police Department
  • Rock County District Attorney
  • Sheboygan County District Attorney
  • Sheboygan County Sheriff’s Office
  • Sheboygan Falls Police Department
  • Sturgeon Bay Police Department
  • Clinton Police Department
  • Beloit Police Department
  • Janesville Fire Department
  • Wisconsin Department of Justice
    • Division of Criminal Investigation
  • Community members providing tips to police
  • Hotels providing space for reverse stings

Key Sources

Web Based Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Proactive Efforts to Identify and Arrest Sex Buyers:

Other Sex Buyer Arrests; Identity Disclosure:


Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Background on Prostitution, Related Crimes (e.g., illegal weapons, drug trafficking) in the Area:

Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

State Wisconsin
Type County
Population 162532
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